A car trader fears his business may have to close as he faces a losing battle against clouds of dust from a Huddersfield demolition site.
Businessman Peter Zito, 61, has been running PZ Cars on Old Leeds Road for 23 years but cannot recall a time when trade was quite so bad as it has been in recent weeks.
No sooner has he washed the 30-odd cars on his lot than they are covered in dust again from the site of the former Huddersfield Sports Centre.
The dust has become so bad Mr Zito is too embarrassed to offer the cars to customers.
“I always try and keep positive but the way it’s going I am going to have to close in the near future,” said Mr Zito.
“I am not selling any cars but I have the expense of rates, rent, insurance, advertising and other bills. I get depressed when I come in and see this mess.”
Mr Zito, a sole trader based at Helms Garage, says dust from the demolition site has worsened in recent weeks.
Windy conditions have caused clouds of fine particles to settle on his cars as demolition crews have been feeding rubble into a crushing machine.
The dust has also been getting into his eyes and mouth – and making car washing a waste of time.
“The point of having a forecourt is having nice, polished cars, but that is now impossible. I am going to have to temporarily close.”
Although dust and noise have been a problem since about April, they have recently become intolerable, he claimed.
“I now have no income, no sales at all,” he said. “I’m embarrassed to offer customers a car. It’s pointless taking cars to the car wash.”
Before demolition work started, he was selling one or two cars per week but business is now “zilch.”
Mr Zito is trying to get Kirklees Council to temporarily exempt him from paying rates, but he has yet to get a decision and fears the offer will be just a 10% cut at best.
“I have paid rates for the last 23 years and I am still paying but I am not earning.”
The personal toll has been great, he says.
“Financially, it has affected me greatly and mentally too. Sometimes I think ‘what am I doing all this for?’ It has become a burden. I am a positive person but this knocks your confidence.”
The dust has affected others including motorist Adrian Helliwell, who pays £60 a month to park in a compound adjacent to PZ Cars.
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Mr Helliwell, a maintenance fitter, recently returned to his Nissan Qashqai to find the windscreen covered in fine dust.
He tried to clear it using the windscreen wipers but inadvertently scratched the glass.
“There are thousands of tiny scratches on the windscreen. Possibly, it’s my fault. The insurance won’t pay,” he said. “It’s going to cost £440 for a new windscreen.”